Quick-Changing Weather Crushes Sailboat Into Aerial Lift Bridge

Nobody was injured but the possibility was very real for that to happen as the force of Mother Nature was too powerful to control. 

DULUTH, Minn.- It started out as a beautiful 80-degree day on Lake Superior, but that quickly changed.

Nobody was injured but the possibility was very real for that to happen as the force of Mother Nature was too powerful to control.

“We just proved it yesterday the weather on Lake Superior can change in two seconds,” Campbell said.

The first evening sailboat race of the season for the Duluth Regatta began with clear waters until a drastic weather change happened

“The wind had changed really quickly I mean it was pretty fast,” Campbell said.

The wind gusts got up to 45 knots, which is more than 50 miles per hour.

Longtime Aerial Life Bridge Supervisor Dave Campbell says he remembers a boat being caught in the bridge years ago.. but nothing to this extent.

“This is the only one that I’ve seen where we’ve actually snapped the mast and it went under the bridge,” Campbell said.

If you are wondering why the lift bridge did not raise for the sailboat’s emergency, Campbell tells us it’s not that easy, and takes time

“On average it’s about 35–45 seconds before the bridge actually starts to go up,” Campbell said.

More time than the boat was even stuck after being pushed quickly into the bridge by the combination of gusty wind and strong current.

“There’s always a current going back and forth in the canal and it doesn’t always mean it’s going with the wind it can go against the wind,” Campbell said.

Once the winds got bad, the race was canceled. But if the weather cooperates they’ll be out there racing sailboats again next week.

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